Any helpful advice for an unruley stepchild?

Leigh - posted on 01/25/2014 ( 4 moms have responded )

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I just got married a little less than a year ago and I am having a horrible issue with my step daughter. She has some really good qualities but the bad qualities make it hard for me to connect with her. She is 11 and is probably the most mature 11 year old I have met. She has a fowl mouth on her. When she is mad at my boys she'll say things like "Go die in a hole" or "shut up or I will shoot you in the head with a gun." or "I will smuther you while you are sleeping." She just has a very nasty disposition. I am scared to bring her around any of my family because my parents, siblings, aunts and uncles are very conservative people and I am worried that she will make a fool out of herself or out of me. I can have a really good time with her and laugh talk with her for hours, but that does not happen often. I normally try to avoid her as much as possibly. I have a very hard time disciplining children that are not mine but yesterday I got so angry that I went off on her. I am so tired of it. My husband will take my side while she is around but then when she is not around he things I am out casting her. I have a several nieces and nephews and a lot of friends that have children as well and I have never in my life heard a child talk the way she does. Please give me helpful advice. Maybe there are others out there that have been in the same situation. I want to be close with her and have a good relationship with her like I do with her sister, but I cannot allow a child to come into my house and act as if she rules the roost.

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Ev - posted on 01/25/2014

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How long have you actually known her? How much have you tried to actually get on her level and connect with her? You have to understand that she did not make the choices of divorce, meeting you and her father marrying you. She had no say at all. She might be protecting herself thinking if she even likes you the least little bit that she will betray her own mother. She may be protecting her mother too. She knows as she is old enough that you are not mom and may be using that too. SHe can also pick up on your reactions to her and will convene them back to you. You have to think from her point of view on this, her world, her parents and everything she knew is no longer there. She had been dropped into separate homes, a new blended family, and its is very OVERWHELMING to her. It does not sound like you have given her much time to get used to things and the changes that have come. YOU can not expect her to love you over night nor love the changes that have happened over night. It takes time to blend a family and make it work. If you only spend a few odd and end times with her and have fun, that is not working it out. It does sound like you do push her away. YOu and her dad do not sound like you have sat down and discussed what rules will be in place for ALL kids in the house regardless of how often she is there or not and what kinds of consequences will take place for offenses of the rules.

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Leigh - posted on 01/26/2014

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Thank you Evelyn for the advice. I understand that she is going through a lot of emotional things right now. I honestly feel an extreme sorrow for her at times because of the things that she tells me that her mother says. The only reason I know that her mother is telling her these terrible things is because my husband has confronted her several times and she says that she isn't doing anything but telling her daughters the truth, and that they are aloud to know how she feels. Some of the things she tells me that her mother says is just very sickening. Right now I am a full time student and have part time job, and my husband, well he is in the same boat but he is part time college and full time employed. So because of our situation we do get assistance for medical for the kids and other things as well. I wont go into to much detail with that but I figured it could give some insight and you could see that some of the things this child says are things an 11 year old should not know or say. She told my step daughter that we were white trash and that I did not love my children or them because I don't even take care of my own kids...the state does. She tells them that her dad is going to die and she is not going to have a father soon because he smokes. This kid has been hysterically crying because she thought her dad was going to die.

I understand that she may have hard feelings towards my husband because there are things that bother me about my children's father, but I would never in a million years fill my kids heads up with horrible things about their dad. Why would a mother want to do that to her child? It will not accomplish anything but psychological damage to such a beautiful young girl. The more and more I study on child/adolescent development I am become more scared than anything on how this alienation is going to affect her. I actually went to the behavioral health center last month to get paper work filled out so we could get her into counseling but it needs her moms signature and her mom will not sign it. I don't understand why though!

Anyways. After I read your first comment, I did apologize to my husband for making him feel that way. I guess I was just in rant mode when I first posted and after I had time to cool off I felt terrible. I do love those girls with all my heart, I just get so frustrated, I think that I am more frustrated with their mother and when she spouts out these things at me or my hubby it hurts. The boys even look upset when she says those things. I talked to my psych instructors at school about the situation all the time, and they agree she needs counseling.

It does make me very upset when she cusses and says really nasty things, I guess more because I have never heard that come out of a kids mouth. Maybe it would be different if she were 16 or 17....but an 11 year old telling me, or her dad, or her brothers to "shut the f*** up"...or "I don't f***ing care" "your not my f***ing mom!" I mean, I know I am not her real mom, and I would never try to take that from her. I would never say a negative thing about her mom, ever. I don't know...i guess I just don't know where to start. It drives me nuts! But deep down I know this is not her fault.

Ev - posted on 01/26/2014

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And though you have done all this with her and so forth, and even if she does not remember her parents together, its still a lot on some kids. Maybe she is still reacting to that. And you get to see her come back home speaking badly, back talking you, saying mean things to the others she plans to do sounds like you need to get her into therapy. BUT her dad is going to have to be the one to tell her mom that there is a problem and they are going to have to come together to face the issue and get it resolved. You see the results of her after a time frame at mom's but you said you never have spoken to mom. How do you really know that her mom is filling her head with all this stuff she comes back with? How do you know what is said about you and her dad and the others? You are not there to hear it. But something is not right in that situation and it needs dad to address it. He needs to step up and find out what is going on.

I think you both have to understand that this girl is reacting to something that seems to be specific at her visits to mom. She is hearing, seeing and getting exposed to things there that she brings home. Maybe its not that she is being told those things but she hears them and then repeats them at your house on return only using herself as the one who will do the things said. You can not really say her mother fills her head with ideas unless you actually hear it yourself. She needs therapy and her parents need to sit down and discuss this. You still need to make her responsible for her actions and what she says; she is 12 and still should be abiding the same exact set of rules the others do. And maybe her sister might be able to shine some light on what goes on at mom's if you ask sister.

Blending families no matter how long people know each other and the kids does not mean it is going to blend and be all happy go lucky. It takes work and if you let one kid out of the number continue with said behavior while the others pretty much follow rules most of the time, that makes her seem favored in their eyes eventually. If she gets away with this with or without help, what example are you two sending the other kids? In time they may start acting that way too.

Leigh - posted on 01/25/2014

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Thank you for replying Evelyn. I have known this girl for a very long time. My husband and his ex have been divorced since she was two. She doesn't even remember them ever being together. The girls and I have always been close and their father and I have been best friends nearly ten years. She is with us all the time. Her mother alienates me and her father. She tells her horrible things about her father and now she is bringing me in it. The mother has never even talked to me. She tells her that her father doesn't love her. I have four boys and I feel like I spend more time trying to appease the girls than I of the boys. Hearing a child talk the way she does is just foreign to me. I have never reacted to a child like that. I think there is a lot of psychological damage with her. I just couldn't imagine my mom feeding me a bunch of horrible things about my dad. Before my husband and I started dating the girls begged him to be with me all the time. Her and I do not bump heads like that. I feel very awkward to discipline her because I don't want her to think of me as the evil step mom. I discuss everything with her dad and we talk about it together all three of us. They would actually treat his ex girlfriend terribly because they wanted him and I to be together. I was just raised to respect my elders. I was taught about respect, morals, manners, and to treat others the way you would like to be treated. I have taught my boys this and I have never had problems with them besides a bit of routtyness. I'm not saying I won't but it's hard for me to instill these rules when there is 1 child out of six that acts this way. I mean she told my two year old she was going to shoot him in the head. We do have a lot if good times. She is a very beautiful young girl, funny, athletic, and she can be very helpful. when I pick her up from school she is perfect but when she gets dropped off by her mom all h*ll breaks loose! It's almost as if her mom prepares her and fills her with disturbing things right before she gets dropped off.

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